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By now, it’s fairly common knowledge that just about all the top players make use of the neural-net backgammon programs such as Snowie, or the older Jellyfish. The concept of neural-net technology is what permitted the breakthrough in playing levels from 'interesting amateur' to 'world-class' playing literally on par with the best in the world.
On GamesGrid, the famous online server where many of the world's best play, a bot called GGRaccoon, using the GNU 0.13 engine and playing on a weaker setting so that it plays instantly, has achieved a rating as high as 2165 and is a favorite sparring partner of the top players there. A match was also done using Tony Lezard's Dueller software where GNU 0.13 played 100 7-point matches against Snowie 4 using their ideal settings. Aside from offering an analytical engine of the highest order, GNU's interface provides a very impressive number of features for users, many of which are not available in commercial programs. Import and export one's games and matches from other sources such as FIBS, Gamesgrid (it imports comments as well), and TrueMoneyGames. Analyze a game or entire match with a detailed report, including your rating and even the equivalent Snowie error rate.
Bearoff databases (both two-sided and one-sided), and tools to make ones own, however large (up to the 12-point, 13-point, etc.).
Choose between no less that 12(!) Match Equity Tables such as Woolsey's, Trice and Jacobs, or even the Snowie table, not to mention some newer more precise ones. A Temperature Map to visualize the dangers and jokers of a move as well as the volatility of cube decisions.
Gammon Values and a powerful Market Value viewer showing the values of take points, cash point, beavers, etc.
What follows is a tutorial intended to present most of what GNU Backgammon has to offer, though not exhaustively so, and how to make the most of it.
The first and most basic feature is to simply set up a game and play, so let’s start with that.
After you’ve rolled the dice, just clicking on a checker will have GNU play the highest number with it, and after with a second checker or the same one, it will play the lower number. If you would like GNU’s analysis of a move or cube decision while playing, go to the Analyze menu and select Hint, or press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-H.
To resign, though GNU will refuse an offer for a single game if there is a chance for a gammon still. You may wish to use GNU to keep track of a game or match against a friend, and play directly on GNU, or you may wish to enter a game from another source such as a book or a videotape for safekeeping and analysis. You can also set the turn of the player to move in the Game menu and by selecting Set turn at the bottom. To enter the moves, just play as you normally would against GNU: clicking on the board to roll the dice, selecting the dice rolled, and then playing the move.
If you wanted to double, the simplest way is to click on the move before, re-enter it, and then double.
If you are a Snowie user, or have seen Snowie's analysis, you may wonder why my recommended level of play (Supremo) is set at 2-ply when Snowie's strongest setting is at 3-ply. If you are playing Expert level (this is what GGRaccoon is set at) or another 0-ply setting, the Move Filter settings will not change a thing, as Expert level automatically examines all moves. Before going any further, do not forget to click on Save settings at the bottom of the Settings menu. My personal choices are to set the limit to bad, and to set the Tutor decisions as Same as Analysis.
This variation of backgammon conceived by Nick "Nack" Ballard has two checkers removed from the 6 and 13 points and places them in the opponent's board to form a second anchor.
Hypergammon is a very different game, though it too follows the standard rules of backgammon.
The Match Equity Table can be viewed at any moment by entering the Analyze menu and selecting Match Equity Table. In the window that opens, enter the met directory on the right, and then on the left choose the table you want. The use and knowledge of Match Equity Tables, or METs, in match play is well understood by experienced players. If the game situation is a race, one can look up what the Kleinman count or Thorp count has to say about it. Sho Sengoku conceived and developed the idea of the Temperature Map, which is now available to GNU users. It explains this to us through its estimated percentages of wins and losses, but even trusting the numbers, it is sometimes difficult for a player to see why one is worse than the other.
The whiter the squares the worse the roll would be for me, and the darker the red, the better. If for example, you wanted to see why a certain roll, flagged with a white square, plays worse, you can click on Show best move, and the best move after each roll will appear in the corresponding square. After your match or game is finished, in the JavaFIBS client, go to the Tools menu and select Match Converter. In the window that opens, click on the match you want to analyze, and press the Convert button. In the save game window, change the format to be saved to Gamesgrid Snowie Match (.sgg) and then press Save.
I'd first suggest changing the option in the TrueMoneyGames client so that it always saves matches by default.
After saving your game or match, open GNU, enter the File menu, select Import, and then choose TrueMoneyGames .tmg match. GNU allows users to Export their games and matches into a variety of formats such as the Jellyfish formats, text format, not to mention PDF, LaTex, PostScript, and even HTML. If you want to share a position and analysis with someone via e-mail or a bulletin board, you can save it to a text file and then recopy the contents, but there is a simpler way.
To paste the analysis of the position, look at the analysis in either the Annotation window or the Hint window, highlight the moves, and press the Copy button.
You may also wish to simply save the board position as an image file that you can add to a Word document or HTML document for example. GNU is capable of creating elegant HTML files so that you can publish your games on the web.
To set all the settings as you'd like, you need to go to the Settings menu and then select Export.
You can choose what the board in the HTML page will look like, and have it appear exactly as the board design (see Appearance: Board designs for more on this) you are using in GNU.
Tip: If you want to post a position in an online forum that supports HTML you can do this regardless of whether the forum itself supports the necessary images. First be sure the image to be exported is currently on the board, and then in the Export settings set the HTML board type to fibs2html. GNU also comes with a set of functions that allow it to analyze a game or match, provide a detailed graded report, and allow you to navigate through the moves to quickly see the mistakes made. Before starting, you'll want to configure the settings first, though this will only need to be done once.
Tip: Once more, please do not forget to save (Settings Save settings) after making changes in the settings, or you will be forced to change them again the next time you start the program.
If you just played a match at an online server, import it first, then go to the Analyze menu and select Analyze match.
Once GNU has finished analyzing your games, you'll want to see the report and then go over the bloopers.
You can click on the tabs at the top see the detailed information on how you did specifically in checker play, cubes, and even how lucky or unlucky you were, and see the individual grades for each area. If you right-click on the information, you will have the choice to copy it or all the pages into the Windows clipboard, that you can paste wherever you like.
It is very revealing when you see a very different evaluation of your checker play as opposed to your cube decisions.
You can save these results with the match (File Save Match), so that you can see the analysis at anytime without having to redo it. GNU can be quite tough on the grades, much harder than Snowie 4, so an Advanced grade in GNU could easily be an Expert or World Class grade in Snowie 4.
GNU will also attribute an estimated Elo rating of your play based on the FIBS rating system, but it will only do so for match play. You can keep track of the results obtained by yourself and your opponents using the Player Records.
To add results to an existing account, or simply create a new account in which to add the results (of course you must first have an analyzed match open), go to the Analyze menu, and select Add to Player Records and Match statistics.
Once you have seen the results of the report, you will probably want to go over the mistakes you made.
Though it may seem like GNU got overly enthusiastic about its comments, the fact is there are two separate comments above.
Note that you can ignore this if you like, and stick to the color coding, as described below.
A first suggestion is to go to the Settings menu, then Appearance, and in it, to the right, make sure the box for GWC as Percentage is checked. First of all, if you are new to backgammon software, and the above looks hopelessly complicated, relax, it isn't nearly that bad.
As you can see, it shows the best moves considered, with the move actually played in red, plus the various equity scores for gammons, etc.
That’s all nice and well for the Hint window, however the Analysis pane, if activated, will appear below the Game Record a bit differently. The organization is similar to the Hint window described above, and the information is identical. If you’d like to copy the analysis of a move(s) or cube decision to a document, highlight the moves that interest you, and press Copy. If you'd like to see how the different moves it analyzed appear on the board, press the Show button. Here we see the results of the 2-ply analysis, displayed not only in percentiles, but in Match Winning Chances, as opposed to Game Winning Chances. These comments are saved with the game score and can also be exported into HTML, PDF, text files, or any of the other Export options.
One can do a full rollout, meaning it will play the position out until the last checker is born off, or it can be a truncated rollout, playing to a certain depth in plies, enough to evaluate the consequences, or even a mixture of settings.
Rollouts can be done at any time either directly from the Analyze menu with the Rollout option, or from the Hint window. GNU offers a vast number of ways to set the rollouts, allowing you as many possibilities for efficiency as possible.
When one opens the rollout options window for the first time, it can look vastly intimidating and confusing. However, it really isn't, so let's run through it from top to bottom and see what GNU can do for you. The number of trials is simply the number of games you want GNU to play out (or roll out) as it collects the results. Truncated rollouts are rollouts played to a certain number of moves as opposed to full rollouts.
In the above figure the setting is 11 plies, so GNU will play out 11 moves, stop and evaluate the resulting position, and then start the next trial. One can set GNU to use a different playing strength after a specified number of plies in the Evaluation for later plies.
If you click on the tab First Play Both, you can set the strength of the first plies to be played.
Obviously, a rollout with too few trials will not yield reliable results due to the large Standard Deviation, or in other words how much the result could be wrong by. In the figure above, the margin was set to 0.100 and a minimum of 144 games were requested.
A cubeful rollout means that it is using the cube in the rollout and, just as in a normal game, might stop the rollout short due to a doubled cube that is passed.
Since GNU comes with bearoff databases allowing not only perfect play but perfect evaluations of a position as well, it makes since to have the program stop a rollout when it reaches one of these databases.
Whenever running a rollout, you will always want the Variance Reduction activated as it greatly increases the reliability of the results.
Normally, GNU will roll the dice out completely randomly, but this may not be desirable in the rollouts. This option deliberately alternates the first roll for every trial so that every possible first roll will have been played after 36 trials, starting with 1 and 1, then 1 and 2, all the way to 6 and 6. If you plan to do a rollout on one of the opening moves you will want to activate the option Rollout as initial position. The seed is a random number that you can choose and that is linked to the random dice generator. If you see a posted rollout result with the played settings (strength and number of trials), the type of random dice generator chosen, and the seed, you should be able to exactly reproduce the results by using the same settings and the same seed. Although the obvious choice (and the default one) is to have both players use the same settings, you can also choose not to. By deactivating the Use same settings for both players option, you can configure different checker and cube play settings for each side. If you are using a truncated rollout, you may be concerned about the final and decisive evaluation. A lot of testing has been done by a number of people seeking to find the most reliable settings under different circumstances, as well as spotting the unreliable ones.


The first thing to note is that the 0-ply checker play is indeed extremely strong (as any victim of GGRaccoon can attest to) and due to its speed is usually ideal for full rollouts. The primary setting is what I use the most and covers 95% of my rollouts, giving excellent results within a few minutes. Activate Enable separate evaluations and set Change eval after ply to a number between 8 and 12. If you are running a rollout but must stop it before reaching a satisfactory answer, you can stop the rollout and then continue it later.
To see the results, just paste them on the document (Ctrl-V or Shift-Ins for Windows users).
If you are using Word or Wordpad, it is suggested you set the pasted text to the font Courier New, and the size to 9 or 10, else the formatting will be lost, and it may be difficult to read. Once more: Remember to save your settings before exiting the program or you will need to reconfigure your settings the next time you use GNU. Naturally, other than matches and games, you might just want to set up a position from a book or other source, and ask GNU's expert advice. At the bottom, you will see you have the option of setting the scores or the names of the players.
If you want to change the dice on the board, click on the side of the board where you would normally click to roll the dice. You can set whose turn it is to play by clicking on the small checker next to the player's name at the bottom. To set the cube position and value click on the cube or enter the Game menu and select Set cube.
The cubes that are upside down are for the top player, the ones rightside up are for the bottom player, and if you wish to set the cube in the center, choose the ones facing sideward. If you want to setup the same position another GNU user posted, you don't need to set it all up manually. Just copy the code after the Position ID into your GNU's space (highlight it and press Ctrl-C) for the Position ID. Moving and setting up the checkers is quite easy and Snowie users will feel at home as the method is identical.
You can change the overall appearance of the menus through a number of skins included with the installation, however this cannot be done from within the program and must done manually. The appearance of the boards can also be changed making use of a number of presets, or you can design your own. Here and in the Lighting tab you can also set and control as much of the appearance as possible, allowing you also a great deal of creative possibilities.
You can also enjoy a full screen game, without panels, toolbars, or any other distractions, by going to the View menu, and selecting Full screen.
By now it should be clear that while a number of backgammon players have complained about the steep prices of top commercial software excluding them from the tools and type of progress available to more fortunate players, that complaint is now definitely without foundation. It's true that it is ever a work in progress and has its rough edges, but with time they will undoubtedly be ironed out for the most part.
I would like to effusively thank the authors of GNU Backgammon and its numerous contributors, and would also like to suggest that anyone enjoying their efforts make a contribution to the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Project, as a token of appreciation. The impact these programs have had on the way the game is understood and played cannot be overstated. Though the programs come with different options depending on how much one is willing to spend, a version with all the trimmings, such as importing one’s matches, analyzing the games, grading your play, allowing rollouts, etc. The person behind this brilliant idea is Gerald Tesauro, a researcher for IBM, who built the first neural-net program called TD-Gammon.
Although GNU won with a convincing 56-44, subsequent analysis, taking into account the luck factor, revealed that they were of exactly the same strength.
For more information on how the neural nets were developed, see Joseph Heled's (the developer) site The GNUbg Training Program. It's worth mentioning that GNU Backgammon is also available for MacOS, Solaris, Linux, and other operating systems. If you want to only refer to it on occasion, for example to test your own estimation, go to the Analyze menu, select Pip count, and the count will appear at the bottom left.
If you make a mistake and enter the wrong dice, just go to the Game menu again and select Set dice. GNU will automatically continue the game with your change and erase the moves that came after. This opens a window displaying the settings for GNU or allowing you to play against someone else (or even have GNU play against itself). A ply is basically one move played by one side, thus if both sides played a move, it would be one whole move, but two plies, one for each side.
At Supremo level, this changes though, as it takes a selection of the best moves from 0-ply and examines them at 2-ply.
This first line means that it won't force any moves to be analyzed at 2-ply, it will only analyze moves according to the second line.
This means that provided they aren't more than 0.320 equity worse than the top move, it will select a maximum of 16 moves to analyze at 2-ply.
This just means that those 16 moves selected from the 0-ply are sent instead to be analyzed at 1-ply, and then up to 5 moves from 1-ply will be sent to be analyzed at 2-ply.
You must do this every time you make changes you wish the program to remember the next time you load it. You set the threshold for its alerts, so if you set it for bad, it will only warn you when you make a bad mistake. The main ones are Nackgammon and Hypergammon, both of which are supported by GNU, as well as an Eastern variation of the rules not allowing more than 5 checkers on a single point. In it, each player starts with only 3 checkers in the opponent's board and must of course cross the board and bear them off as in normal backgammon. If 25% is the limit to take a double in a money game, ignoring cube revig, in a match this changes enormously according to score. Essentially what it does is allow you to see the possible consequences of a move or cube decision in a visual manner. Essentially, you just want to save the games in a format that GNU can read and then import them.
I'd recommend deleting the match after this (pressing the Delete button) so the list doesn't grow too big. You'll find it in the main JavaFIBS directory, in the subdirectory Match and then Jellyfish.
For example, to have it remember where to import your matches from Gamesgrid go to File, then Import, and then Gamesgrid .sgg match. When the position is on the board, go to the Edit menu and select Copy as and the Position as ASCII.
To fix it to look like the above, highlight the text of the diagram and change the font to Courier New and the size to 9 or 10. Another feature (in my opinion) is that GNU only grades your checker play according to non-forced moves, contrary to Snowie which grades while including moves that were spent on the bar or that were forced. If you are used to Snowie's grade system, or would like to compare them, you will see the equivalent Snowie grade at the top. To do this, click on any of the lines, then right-click with the mouse, and select either Copy Page or Copy all Pages.
There you can store the statistics of your matches and keep records of the average results obtained such as checker play, cube decisions, and luck. If the account doesn't already exist, GNU will create it automatically and add the results.
To do this, you'll need to be sure both the Game Record and the Analysis panes are visible.
You can navigate backwards and forwards move-by-move with the green arrows, and game-by-game with the red arrows. The early versions of GNU didn’t have the color coding, so they used punctuation marks, standard in chess notation, to describe the moves.
The first punctuation (!?) is for the checker play, and the second (??) is for the cube, so here a dubious checker play was made, and a cube decision blunder was also made.
If all this seems a bit disorienting at first, with a bit of practice, it will become second nature. You will see a window open showing the best to worst moves from top to bottom or an analysis of the cube decision. In order to see it as shown below go to the Settings menu, select Options, then select the Display tab at the top. This means that occasionally you may see several moves with an equity of -1.000 (see Equity below), despite significantly different winning percentiles, because it thinks that if they are played then the opponent will double, and you should pass. Most players will focus on the last three, which are the total equity of the move, the difference in equity between the move played and GNU's top choice, and what move is being evaluated. The top line of each move shows the rank, the type (depth), the equity and the move played (in boldface). If you want to highlight more than one, keep the Ctrl key pressed while selecting the moves. This is available through the Commentary pane, available through the View menu (View Commentary). A rollout is when you have the program play against itself a set amount of times (number of trials) and then sum up all the results of wins, losses, gammons, etc.
To use the rollout function you must first select the moves you want to rollout, otherwise the button will remain grayed out and inaccessible.
Its 0-ply play is incredibly strong and practically instant, so it can help give meaningful results very quickly. If you want to set a different playing strength for the cube decisions, you must go to the General Settings tab and at the bottom deactivate the option Cube decisions use same settings as Checker play. You may feel that the program doesn't really need to play the game to the last move to know whether a move leads to good positions on average or bad ones.
This is far faster of course, and is particularly desirable if you want to analyze using a 2-ply playing strength which might be too slow for a full rollout. Although you wanted the game to be rolled out at 0-ply (1900-2000 Elo), you didn't trust the first plies to be the best.
Naturally, if you haven't activated the Evaluation for later plies option this will be the default rollout playing strength. The first time this ingenious technique was introduced to backgammon rollouts was by Fredrik Dahl, the author of Jellyfish.
The reason is that luck may cause a number of flukes to happen, especially in the first roll.
It doesn't affect the randomness by any means, and its sole purpose is to allow you or others to exactly reproduce rollout results. Without this option, the tabs First Play Both and Later Play Both establish the playing strength for both sides. For example, you might be content to let it play 17 plies at 0-ply to evaluate the resulting position, but want a little more precision on the evaluation of the final position. I'd like to especially thank Michael Depreli, Ian Shaw, Ian Dunstan and Neil Kazaross for their painstaking research and the huge amount of computer time spent gathering and processing the data. The reason for these numbers is that there are 36 possible combinations of the dice, and 1296 is 36 times 36. First, you must start a new game or match, and then just press the Edit button, located at the top in the toolbar.
If you click on the left-side of the board it will propose the dice for the top player, and if you click on the right-side of the board it will present the dice for the bottom player. If you want the cube at its initial value in the center, choose the 64 cube facing sideward. You can simply copy the Position ID and Match ID and instantly get the position, cube, and score. To remove or add white checkers to a point for example, use the right mouse button and click on the point.
Adding checkers is the same, so if you wanted to add a red checker to the 6-point you would place the cursor where the green arrow indicates and left-click. The procedure is fairly painless if you aren't afraid of moving a couple of files in the Windows Explorer. In it there is a directory called \Themes, where the skins are located, and in that, you will see a number of directories with the names of the skins they contain.
If you have a large screen it can be quite an experience, and it can also be a nice way to play against a friend if you have no board nearby. Using the tabs at the top, you can change the appearance of the board and if you really like your new design, go back to the Designs tab and save it by pressing Add current design and then Save designs.
It is also an engine that is stronger than its older top-of-the-line siblings in GamesGrid, and at its price (free), one would have to be crazy not to have it, even if one does own the legendary Snowie. The FSF survives mostly off the contributions, however small, of private donations, and without it, those loud complaints mentioned above would be entirely justified. Players of all levels have the option of purchasing these revolutionary ‘bots’ (short for robots) in order to not only have the pleasure of getting a drubbing by a world-class opponent as many times as they want, but also have it analyze their moves, games, and matches. The difference it brought was that instead of simply using weights and strategies of programmers and players, it created its own by playing against itself hundreds of thousands of times, with each version stronger than the previous one. Be sure to select full instead of concise at the bottom left of the site if you do visit it.


There are also programs using the GNU engine running on Pocket PC PDAs, and the source is available to be ported to PDAs. If the appearance isn’t to your liking, you will find out how to customize it further below.
If you also want to change the dice rolled, click on the move, then press the Edit button on the toolbar, click on the dice, select the dice you want, press the Edit again, and continue from there. Snowie starts counting at 1-ply whereas GNU starts at 0-ply, so GNU's 2-ply is in fact the same search depth as Snowie's 3-ply.
This means that for those selected moves it will calculate all the possibilities 2 plies ahead and evaluate them, allowing it to find better moves.
If it had said it would always analyze 2 moves, this would mean that no matter how ridiculously bad the 2nd move was compared to the 1st, it would analyze both at 2-ply. So this would actually be faster than the previous setting (and weaker), since a maximum of only 5 moves would be analyzed at 2-ply depth.
It will then allow you to re-examine your choice, go right ahead with it, or provide a 'hint' essentially showing you its analysis. GNU is also capable of directly importing and recognizing Nackgammon and Hypergammon games played on the servers for analysis. It is considered a more strategic struggle, with luck influencing less than normal backgammon. To play Hypergammon in GNU you must first build the Hypergammon databases using the tool makehyper.exe, or you can download the databases here. The table used by GNU is by no means imposed, and you can select any of a number of provided ones, including the Snowie MET, Woolsey's, Jacob and Trice's, etc.
Again, don't forget to save the settings (Settings menu Save settings) otherwise it won't remember your choice of table the next time you use GNU. The reason is that it allows you to see the volatility of the position, and would thus allow you to see quickly and easily the potential market losers of a position.
If you'd like to share a position and some analysis in text format, you can have GNU send this directly to the Windows clipboard for pasting.
In the window that opens, first go to the directory where the matches are saved, but before opening the file, press the Set As Default button at the top.
In text format you'll see the boards in ASCII art, and in PDF, you'll literally get an instant e-book of the match. Copy the entire contents to the body of the post you are writing, and the board and analysis should appear in the forum without any problems. A fairly large window will open, allowing you to play with as many settings as you could want.
Once started, you will see a bar in the bottom right corner showing the progress made in both the number of moves and percentage completed.
In other words, if you played 50 moves but 10 of those were spent on the bar (you can hardly make a mistake if you can’t play), then GNU will average your error rate according to the 40 unforced moves. It will also break down the results according to the last 20 games played, the last 100, etc. If you use the buttons with the question marks on the green arrows, it will go from mistake-to-mistake. The score shows an clear advantage for the opponent as your equity after the play is -0.064. However, since GNU can’t explain why one move is better than another, looking at the win percentage, and the respective percentages of gammon wins and gammon losses can help. Remember also that you must first have analyzed moves or games (Analyze menu Analyze match) for it to display anything. The line below shows the move’s winning percentages, the gammon winning chances, and the backgammon percentages, followed by the respective percentages of the opponent. The reason is that the cube analysis was from a match, where the score can completely change the value and correctness of a double or not, and GNU tells you what the equity would be if the decision were in a money game.
The reason is that this second equity of +0.688 takes into account the cube and power it gives.
To do a 3-ply or 4-ply analysis, select the moves you want analyzed, and then press the or . Be a little patient as 3 plies is considerably slower than 2 plies, but it shouldn't be too long.
You will want to set your preferred options the first time by clicking on the button to the right of the Rollout button. GNU also plays according to score in its rollouts (using the match equity table of your choice naturally), which Snowie 4 does not for example. After all, if it won a certain position 2 times in 3, it could be a fluke, but after hundreds or thousands of trials with variance reduction (see below) the results become far more trustworthy.
Enabling this as above, you could set the first 8 plies to be played at Supremo (2-ply) and the rest of the game at 0-ply, giving you a bit of both worlds.
Now, once you have set this, click on the Later Play Both, and you will be able to set the playing strength for the subsequent plies.
You can have it stop when there is no longer any doubt which move is better, or you can have it continue until a certain degree of precision has been reached (you not only want to know which move is best, but by how much), while requiring a minimum number of trials before stopping. In a nutshell, it factors in luck when evaluating results, so that the program doesn't need 10,000 games to average out the luck of the dice and that way ensure luck wasn't a factor in the results obtained. What if in your trials, the first roll it played never included some numbers which might lead to a slight change in its evaluation? However, this also means that if used, one must use a number of trials that is a multiple of 36. When you open it and go back to the move, if it is a checker play, select the moves you had been analyzing (or only the ones you want to continue) and just press the Rollout button.
To do so, just select the moves that interest you, keeping the Ctrl key pressed to select more than one, and then press the Copy button as shown.
You determine the number of checkers to be added or removed by the height of the point you press. If you want to quickly get the starting position, you can click on the area indicated by the blue ellipses on the left, and if you want to quickly clear the board of all checkers, click instead on the right side on the area indicated by the pink ellipses. Attention, this isn't a suggestion, you must exit the Edit mode before asking for GNU to evaluate the position otherwise you will get odd results. Send the GNU team your best ones, pressing the Export design button, and they may include them in the next release. The program will point out our mistakes, tell us how big a blunder our move was, and list the best moves.
This would seem to indicate that a top-quality aide is only in reach of someone with deep pockets or a deep commitment. For the GNU engine, I prefer the pre-defined setting of Supremo or World Class for both checker play and cube decisions. Since Supremo is a 2-ply setting, we are only interested in the 2-ply settings of Large as in the figure above. While I trust GNU’s analysis, there is often more than one move within that range, and I wouldn’t want it to miss analyzing one because it is instructed to only look at two moves. However, quite a number have been developed by notable players and researchers, each seeking to get a little closer to playing perfection. If you wish to see how other match scores would affect the figures, you can simply use the arrows, and you can change the cube value.
You can set the depth of the analysis as seen at the bottom of the figure above, but be warned that even a 2-ply analysis of all the possibilities can take some time. In the window that opens, click on the Table tab at the top and then set the options as in the figure below.
After this, save your settings (Settings Save settings) and GNU will remember where to find your Gamesgrid matches. It also can export board positions and Gammonline HTML to the Windows clipboard for easy pasting. This is chosen at the bottom of the window and you can choose between its own HTML images or two others, which are FIBS and BBS.
Find a directory to place them in, or create your own by pressing the Create Directory button at the top. It will show you the results of both players side by side, allowing you to quickly compare notes.
The side-by-side list with colored commentary (note that you must first analyze the match or move before) allows you to quickly overview who made more mistakes in a game, and identify what mistakes and how bad they were. Since we know this is a match cube, the cube may have a very different value depending on how much it weighs on the match score. Don’t forget to change the font to Courier New size 9 or 10 if you wish to maintain the formatting. To exit Show mode to be able to analyze the moves or run rollouts, click on the Show button again. If you want to customize the evaluator, click on the button indicated with a small red circle , and change the parameters you want. I will explain the main options, share the results of some of the testing that has been done, and share my preferences.
In fact this has been tested and shown to be very efficient for exactly that type of scenario. With it, 100 rolled out games with Variance Reduction can be the equivalent of 5,000 games with no Variance Reduction. The variance reduction will compensate for this, but so does the option to use quasi-random dice.
That is why 1296 trials (or 2592 or 3888) is a good number to run rollouts as it is 36 x 36. There is no need to reset the settings, as GNU will remember the exact same settings it had been using when it first began the rollout. Select Designs and you will see a list of the preset board designs, as well as thumbnails of what they look like. It is still up to us to understand why our move or cube action was wrong, however there is no question such a tool is priceless.
In fact, because of its independent learning, its play and that of subsequent programs using neural-net technology have revealed revolutionary strategic knowledge of the game from which top modern practice is based.
At this setting it will take some time to play at given moments which may not be to the taste of everyone, so if you want a top-notch game, just a fraction worse, but almost instant, select Expert instead. 3-ply or 4-ply settings will have no effect here because Supremo doesn't examine at that depth.
GNU allows you to select the MET of your choice, and also includes several you may not be familiar with, with mysterious names such as g11 or Mec26. And if it is a money game, then the respective double, beaver, raccoon, redouble values will be shown instead. To select more than one move, keep the Ctrl key pressed and click on the moves you want to examine.
If you wish a different color scheme, change the design (for more info see Appearance: Board designs). Feel free to look around, but I simply set this to analyze checker play, cube decisions, and luck, and set the level of analysis at World Class for both checker play and cube decisions. Remember you can set the limits of what is considered a mistake by GNU in the Analysis options in the Settings menu. By playing it out, things will happen, and the game will unfold, giving it more accurate information on the consequences of a move.
GNU Backgammon is among those neural-net giants, and is among the top programs in the world.
You may also get tired of getting beat up by it (if you think it cheats, read the section A Word about 'Cheating'), in which case, you can select more modest playing levels. You can also change the size of the image that is created by entering the Settings menu, then Export, and at the bottom right of the window that opens, set the size you want. The Move limit setting is to set the maximum number of moves it will display in the Hint window and the Analysis pane. It is important to copy and not move the files, so if you're not Windows savvy, this means holding the Ctrl key on the keyboard down while dragging the files. Both the g11 and Mec26 tables use such a rate, though g11 is probably even more precise, as the values up to an 11-point match were generated from extensive rollouts by GNU, and the scores above refer to the Mec26 table. Be careful to remember the name of the directory you placed the images in, including capital letters if you used any.
This shows the chances of winning the match as opposed to the evaluation according to a single game.
For an expert opinion on the subject, allow me to refer to Neil Kazaross, who wrote a post on this at the GammonLine forum. Now go to the Settings menu, select Export and then at the bottom select GNU Backgammon board images (circled in red below) and type the name of the directory.



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